Background: Little research has been conducted to examine the relationship between education level and functional limitations among Japanese community residents. We sought to examine the association between education level and physical functional limitations among Japanese men and women, and whether that association was modified by gender and history of stroke.
Methods: We examined prevalence of physical functional limitation by educational level using the data from a total of 29,134 Japanese men and women aged 50-69 years living in communities in 2000. The information of educational level (junior high school graduates, senior high school graduates, college and/or higher education) and physical functional limitations (no need for assistance, need for assistance when going outdoors, and need for assistance to carry out indoor activities) were obtained by self-administrated questionnaire.
Results: The proportions of the subjects reported their highest level of schooling were 48% for junior high school, 39% for high school, and 13% for college. Three hundred and twenty eight subjects (1% of total subjects) reported having some physical functional limitations. Multinomial logistic regression analyses showed that the odds ratio of needing assistance to carry out indoor activities were 4.84(95%CI:3.61,6.50) for lowest education level group and 2.21(95%CI:1.00,4.86) for middle education level group compared to highest education level group. The corresponding odds ratios of needing assistance when going outdoors were 2.36(95%CI: 2.03,2.72) and 1.08(95%CI:0.73,1.60), respectively. Further, the significant excess prevalence of having functional limitations associated with the low education level was identified for men regardless of history of stroke and for women without history of stroke.
Conclusion: Low education level was associated with the higher prevalence of physical functional limitations for both genders. That association among persons with history of stroke was observed for men but not for women probably due to gender differences in stroke subtypes and social support.